The Radiomir, a watch classic that was originally designed for functional use, has since established itself as a style element in the everyday life of many fashionable men. It is a model that is directly linked to the brand Panerai: the cushion-shaped case, the sandwich design of the dial and typical looped lugs that were used in the beginning have all become distinctive design elements of this iconic model. In 1940, Panerai produced a new model for the military by enlarging its fine looped lugs, as well as milling them from one steel case block to adapt the watch to its demanding requirements.
Panerai is now introducing four new modern versions of this Radiomir from 1940 in a “Radiomir Edizione Verse Militare” edition: three models made of durable stainless steel (AISI 316L), and one model from sandblasted ceramic – all with a military green dial. Whereas most of the retro variations the frogmen used were equipped with a black dial, the civilian version of this watch has also been available in different colour schemes since 1993 – a good look is more important to many wearers nowadays then perfect readability.
This was, however, entirely different in the early 1930s: back then, the Florentine toolwatch specialists from Panerai equipped the rather pragmatic thinking frogmen of the Italian Royal Navy exclusively with their hard-wearing wristwatches. To fulfil their purpose and let the numerals glow in the dark under water, they were coated with a radium substance that Panerai patented in 1916 by the name ‘Radiomir’. In 1949, the radium was replaced by the tritium that was first used in the ‘Luminor’ collection.
This early model has not lost any of its appeal today, although the radium and tritium have been replaced by Super-LumiNova. Original Radiomir models are fetching considerable prices at auctions. They are extremely rare and hence even more popular. That is not least due to the fact that Panerai only produced 10 prototypes in 1936 exclusively for the Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy).
In recent years, Panerai has improved in making their watches more wearable. At least since the launch of the Luminor Due in 38 and 42 mm, even the models with their omnipresent crown protection device have become much more compatible. Still, the ‘Radiomir’ is clearly the allrounder at Panerai: It is classical, sporty and somehow elegant at the same time. By using a rather discreet micro rotor, the height of the watches measure a slim 12.2 to 16.12 millimetres, and the watch is comfortable to wear on the wrist or under your fabric. Yet the case sizes of these watches are important to point out. The two new steel versions have a 45 mm case and also wear well on a medium size wrist – the ceramic variation comes in 48 mm and we find needs a little more heft on the wrist. But this is a subjective opinion, as every watch wearer has their very own idea of style and look.
The quartet starts with an automatic Radiomir 45 MM PAM996. It is equipped with a calibre P.4000, which is Panerai’s thinnest automatic movement, with hours, minutes and a small second hand. The Radiomir GMT 45 MM PAM998, with a calibre P.4001, has a second time zone indicator and a power reserve display on the caseback. If you want to keep an eye on your watch’s remaining power, Panerai offers the Radiomir GMT Power Reserve 45 MM PAM999 (calibre P.4002) with a power reserve indicator on the dial side.
The military green used on these new pieces has a strikingly dense and non-reflective green colour. A similar shade already appeared in 2017 on the trio of Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio, Radiomir 8 Days Titanio and Luminor 1940 Chrono Monopulsante 8 Days GMT Titanio. But as Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué wants to bring a clear structure into the product portfolio, the watch lines are no longer mixed up, but clearly separated. Hence, the focus of this product lies solely on the ‘Radiomir’ collection.
The fourth in this horological quartet sets the tone. With its 48 mm ‘chest’ – diameter and a sandblasted ceramic case – the Radiomir 48 MM PAM997 is especially eye-catching. It runs on a calibre P.3000 and is hand-wound. A small second hand has been added at 9 o’clock and parts of the hands are blackened to match the case. All four novelties have a domed sapphire crystal, and numerals and hour markers in beige Super-LumiNova. The straps are made of natural Italian tanned calf leather and available in dark or light brown, or with a beige canvas strap. For the ceramic version, the leather and canvas straps are black.
The Panerai Radiomir 1940 will please all Paneristi and those who want to get to know the brand for the first time that these models are not limited editions, but only available at Panerai Boutiques. Therefore, you get your desired watch in a sumptuous wooden box made of satin-finished green cherry wood and a spare strap. Prices vary from 10,900 to 12,900 euros.